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Class A Commercial Learner’s Permit

Last updated on November 25, 2022

This article will explain how to get a Class A Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). There are several steps and this article will cover those steps in detail and provide references to the most current federal regulations.

You will need to obtain a Class A Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) to complete the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) required to obtain a Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT)

As of February 7, 2022, the Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) is required in order to obtain a Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for the first time (49 CFR 380.609(a)). The following ELDT requirements also apply:

A driver is required to hold a Class A Commercial Learner’s Permit for a minimum of 14 days before taking the skills test to obtain a Class A CDL for the first time (49 CFR 383.25(e)).

Upgrading a CDL (e.g., Class B to Class A) (49 CFR 380.609(a)).

Obtaining a hazardous material (H) endorsement for the first time (49 CFR 380.609(b)).

What is a Class A Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)?

A Class A Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) is issued by a State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) to a person who carries a valid driver’s license in that state. A Class A Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) authorizes that person to operate a Group A (Combination Vehicle) for the purpose of behind the wheel training. The behind the wheel training must be done with a person in the passenger seat who holds a valid Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

Combination Vehicles (Group A) is defined as:

Any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), actual weight, or registered weight over 26,000 lbs. provided the GVWR, actual weight, or registered weight of the towed vehicle(s) is more than 10,000 lbs. (49 CFR 383.91(a)(1)) Commercial Motor Vehicle Groups. Combination Vehicle (Group A).

Before going to your State Driver Licensing Agency

Step 1:

Get a copy of your State’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Manual. All 50 States provide the most current manual in a downloadable PDF format. CDL Digest provides links to each State’s CDL manual. The use of our study guide in addition to the state CDL manual will provide you with the greatest opportunity to successfully pass your knowledge exams.

Note: The manual is considered current if it is “comparable to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators’ (AAMVA’s) “2005 CDL Test System (July 2010 or newer version) Model Commercial Driver Manual.” (49 CFR 383, Subpart H, 131 – Test manuals)

Once you have obtained a current copy of your State’s CDL Manual, study the following sections that you will be tested on to obtain your CLP:

General Knowledge Test (50 Questions)

Air Brakes Knowledge Test (25 Questions)

Combination Vehicles Knowledge Test (20 Questions)

Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) Endorsement allowed for Class A:

Tank Vehicle (N). A Tank Vehicle is any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) that is designed to transport liquids or liquified gases within an individual tank with a rated capacity of 119 gallons and an aggregated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or chassis (49 CFR 383.5).

“A CLP holder with a (N) Endorsement may only operate an empty tank vehicle and is prohibited from operating any tank vehicle that previously contained hazardous materials that has not been purged of any residue.” (49 CFR 383.25(a)(5)(iii))

No other federal endorsements are allowed for a Class A CLP holder (49 CFR 383.25(a)(5)(iv)).

Step 2:

Determine if you qualify for Medical Self-Certification or if you are required to get a DOT physical (Medical Exam Report Form) and a DOT medical card (Medical Examiner’s Certificate). Since most types of commercial driving require that you meet certain medical requirements to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely, your State Licensing Agency will require either self-certification or a DOT medical card.

Note: If you are required to have a DOT medical card, you will need to get a DOT physical by Certified Medical Examiner and provide a copy of the card when you fill out the Class A Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) application. Procedures for submitting the DOT medical card vary from state to state. You can find the state by state instructions here.

For self-certification purposes, you must identify what type of commerce (interstate or intrastate) you intend to be engaged in and self-certify accordingly.

Interstate Commerce:

From one State to another or a foreign country.

Within a State but crossing into another State or foreign country.

Within a State, but the cargo or passengers begin or end their trip in another State or foreign country.

Intrastate Commerce:

Within a State and does not meet any of the criteria for interstate commerce.

Note: If both apply, the State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) will default to Interstate Commerce.

Once you determine whether you will be operating in interstate or intrastate commerce, you must decide whether or not that operation will be in a non-excepted or excepted status.

There are four (4) types of self-certification:

Non-excepted interstate (DOT card Required). A person must certify that he/she operates or expects to operate in interstate commerce, is both subject to and meets the qualification requirements under 49 CFR part 391, and is required to obtain a medical examiner’s certificate by § 391.45. (49 CFR 383.71(b)(1)(i))

Excepted interstate (DOT card not Required). A person must certify that he/she operates or expects to operate in interstate commerce, but engages exclusively in transportation or operations excepted under 49 CFR 390.3(f), 391.2, 391.68, or 398.3 from all or parts of the qualification requirements of 49 CFR part 391, and is therefore not required to obtain a medical examiner’s certificate by 49 CFR 391.45. (49 CFR 383.71(b)(1)(ii))

Non-excepted intrastate (DOT card Required). A person must certify that he/she operates only in intrastate commerce and therefore is subject to State driver qualification requirements. 49 CFR 383.71(b)(1)(iii)

Excepted intrastate (DOT card not Required). A person must certify that he/she operates in intrastate commerce, but engages exclusively in transportation or operations excepted from all or parts of the State driver qualification requirements. 49 CFR 383.71(b)(1)(iv)

DOT Physical – Medical Exam Report Form (Form MCSA-5875)

DOT Medical Card – Medical Examiner’s Certificate (Form MCSA-5876)

Step 3:

Gather the applicable documentation:

Application for Commercial Learners Permit (CLP)

Proof of Identity

Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Evidence of Lawful Presence (49 CFR 383.51, Table 1)

Social Security Card

Self-Certification Documents

Valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (if required)

Issuance Fee

Proof of Identity must show who you are and where you live. The following are some examples (this list is not exhaustive):

Current Driver’s License

U.S. Passport (Unexpired)

U.S. Military Photo ID Card (Unexpired)

U.S. Military Dependent ID Card (Unexpired)

Veteran’s ID or Health Identification Card

Birth Certificate

Pilot’s License

Voter Registration Card

W-2 or 1099 Form (Tax Forms)

Current Motor Vehicle Registration or Title

Military Records (DD214)

Professional License Issue by State

Valid Insurance Policy

Medicare or Medicaid Card

Social Security Card

Tribal Membership Card

Selective Service Card

When you go to your State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA)

Step 4:

Be prepared to do the following:

Prepare to show proof that you are at least 18 years of age.

Show proof of who you are and that you live in the state.

Prepare to show proof of Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residency.

Show that you have a valid, unexpired driver’s license.

You must certify that you are not subject to any of the following disqualifications:

  • Major offenses listed in Table 1 of 49 CFR 383.51
  • Serious traffic violations listed in Table 2 of 49 CFR 383.51
  • Offenses for railroad-highway crossings listed in Table 3 of 49 CFR 383.51
  • Violations of out-of-service orders listed in Table 4 of 49 CFR 383.51
  • Any license disqualifications that fall under State laws
  • Having a driver’s license from more than one State

You must certify whether you qualify for a Medical Self-Certification or if you are required to get a DOT physical (Medical Exam Report Form) and a DOT medical card (Medical Examiner’s Certificate). If you are required to have a DOT medical card, you will need to have it with you.

You must take and pass the knowledge tests (general knowledge, air brakes, combination vehicles) required to obtain a Class A Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) with a score of 80% or better. If applicable, the Tank Vehicle (N) Endorsement knowledge test requires a score of 80% or better for a passing score.

You must also be prepared to pay all associated fees.